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Interior Ministry bows to pressure, orders independent study of Finnish Immigration Service

Finland's Interior Minister says the scheduled third-party analysis of Migri activities "does not imply that there are ambiguities" in the authority's operations.

Kai Mykkänen, Kokoomus
Finland's Interior Minister Kai Mykkänen on August 18. Image: Matti Myller / Yle
Yle News

Kai Mykkänen, Finland's Interior Minister, took to Twitter late Friday night to confirm that his ministry has agreed to commission a comprehensive independent study of the Finnish Immigration Service (Migri).

Several politicians from Finland's opposition parties – including the Greens, Left Alliance, Social Democrats and the Swedish People's Party – had recently demanded that an independent investigation be launched into Migri's decision-making process, after a string of forced returns to war-torn Afghanistan caused a public reprimand from Amnesty International.

Mykkänen said in his tweet that the idea for a "quick internal analysis" that would allow changes to be made before the end of the year has been in the works since February.

He then added that this internal housecleaning will be complimented by an independent and more extensive report that would "inevitably last about a year" but would "lay the groundwork for long-term development" of Migri operations.

He later explained to the Finnish public broadcaster Yle that the Interior Ministry is currently considering which organ would be the best to execute the larger study.

"We are now determining what kind of form it will take and whether it will be the UN Refugee Agency UNHCR or another of our cooperative partners that carries it out," Mykkänen said.

In-house evaluation finds no faults

Migri's internal analysis produced a report in June. Mykkänen said the analysis, which included the minutes and recorded interviews associated with dozens of asylum decisions, found nothing to indicate that there would be any ambiguities in the workings of the immigration authority.

"There is no sign of any kind that our system would be producing the wrong decisions in a systematic fashion," the minister said.

Mykkänen says that an independent analysis will be completed even so, because the Migri has now gotten through the worst of an extremely challenging period, when over 45,000 applications for asylum were processed by the authority in a short time.

The results of the internal report in June have already inspired some changes to the asylum application procedure at Migri. For example, asylum seeker reception centres will start arranging "preparatory discussions" which tell the people seeking asylum in Finland the issues that will be covered in the asylum interviews ahead of time. More interpreters will also be hired to oversee the quality of Migri's spoken interactions.

"It's probably taboo to say this, but we will never have a system in place that will be able to reach the right conclusion for 45,000 asylum decisions. This is why our justice system has the option to appeal," Minister Mykkänen concluded.

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